I started getting Braxton Hicks contractions around 20 weeks and over the course of the following 21 weeks they got stronger and closer together. At 30 weeks they were coming once every hour. Yay! My uterus was getting ready for delivery! By 35 weeks the contractions changed in intensity and came about every 45 minutes. I thought for sure I’d go into labor early! The house was always spotless at the end of the day. My home birth kit and plan was ready. My hospital bag and hospital birth plan was ready. Every night I went to bed thinking I’d wake up in labor. Then 40 weeks came and went . Besides the contractions I didn’t have any other sign of labor. I tried pretty much everything to get the baby to drop and start real labor: spicy food, walking and yoga, sex, pineapple… From my prenatal visits I knew I was 1 cm dilated but baby was still pretty high (just like Adam!) My Dr. started talking about non stress test, ultrasounds and induction. Everything I was dreading. All of my family and friends kept anxiously asking when baby would come, like I actually had a say in the matter. I was getting stressed out and emotional. I wanted my baby to be born just as much as everyone else, but I certainly wasn’t going to let them induce me. I agreed to an ultrasound to check how baby was doing and amniotic fluid levels. Everything came back perfectly fine, so I just waited some more. After the ultrasound I didn’t schedule any more appointments with my OB. If I went to 42 weeks, I’d go back. But for the next two weeks I just wanted to hibernate at home and relax my body and mind.
On Friday, September 7th, I hit the 41 week mark. That night Adam and I tried one more time to start labor. In the early morning on Saturday I woke up a few times with sharp contractions. I didn’t get excited because I was used to having contractions, I did admit that these contractions were different though. When we all woke up around 8am, I went to the bathroom and lost some mucous plug. Contractions started coming every 3-5 minutes. I made breakfast, did the dishes, vacuumed, and got the birth kit out and organized through the contractions. I just went about my day normally. I called my mom to let her know that things were starting and to pray for me. I eventually got tired of walking around and bouncing on my birthing ball so I went to take a nap. Contractions stayed 3-5 minutes apart but never got any stronger. The rest of the day past by and it was time for bed. I got little Adam all tucked in and told Big Adam to just go to bed also. Then I went back downstairs to labor in peace. Contractions picked up and started becoming uncomfortable. Adam decided he didn’t want to sleep and came back downstairs to be with me. All night I labored, in many different positions, even in the bath tub. I tried to get some rest but the contractions were too uncomfortable for that. I had a lot of back labor.
As soon as the sun came up on Sunday the 9th and little Adam got out of bed, my contractions slowed way down. They spaced out to every 15-20 minutes and stayed at the same strength. I was so annoyed! All the work I did the past 24 hours and still nothing?! Audrey came over with food for us and then took little Adam home with her for a few hours. Sunday went by and night came again. As soon as the moon was up my contractions picked up again, 3-5 mins apart and uncomfortable, I got no rest. The sun came up on Monday the 10th and my contractions slowed again. I talked to my mom and told her I was tired of laboring like this, and she said “Well if you go to the hospital now, you know what they’ll do.” Yes I did. Since I was almost 2 weeks overdue and I’d been stuck in labor for the past 2 days, they’d push pitocin and maybe even a c-section. I didn’t want anything to do with either of those options so I decided to stick it out one more day. (I’d just like to add that I’d been checking baby’s heartbeat every hour and it was always strong and regular) Monday was such a beautiful day, the weather was perfect. Audrey, Zach, and Landon were here taking care of things and keeping us company. They made us food and kept things tidy. My contractions started picking up in intensity and I had to brace myself and concentrate through them. Everyone left the house and left me alone for a few hours and things got even stronger. Monday night I secluded myself in my “birth space” which was the bathroom/playroom area in our house. It was around 8pm when I knew for sure that the baby would be in my arms soon. I stayed up-right the whole time. My belly, butt, back and thighs ached. I walked, danced, rolled my hips, rocked on my chair. I moaned through each contraction. To anyone looking at me, I’m sure I looked like a wild animal (which is a good thing during labor!) but I felt so centered and connected to my baby and body the whole time. I had no one there to “check me” and tell me how dilated I was, but I knew. I felt myself open up, I felt my baby move down. When things got really intense I’d stand in the door jam and push my back up against the frame and sink into a semi-squat. I said to myself “open, open” again and again. It helped me focus through the strong waves. In between contractions I sat down on the glider chair and just rocked, as soon as a contraction started I had to jump up as fast as I could before I got “stuck” on the chair from the pain. I tried the bath tub again, and the water felt amazing! But I couldn’t be in any position other than semi-reclined so I didn’t stay in there long. Adam was with me near the end, he’d massage my hands and that would help me relax. He’d tell me I was doing a good job, and I wanted to laugh because I KNEW I was doing a good job. I felt great. Contractions were intense and consumed every fiber of my being, but never once did I think they were too painful. Never once did the hospital cross my mind. Never once did I want pain relief. Never once did I want more support. The things that bothered me the most during labor was that my mouth was so dry and I was so thirsty but water just didn’t quench my thirst. My body would also flash between really cold and very hot. I kept thinking how labor would be so much easier if I didn’t have a huge belly hindering my movement! And unfortunately I had the worst song stuck in my head on repeat- “Bones” from the Bubble Guppies (one of my toddlers favorite shows) it goes, “Got a bunch of bones inside me, got a bunch of bones inside me, yeah, a whole bunch of bones that everyone owns underneath the skin that we’re in” I was constantly reminding myself that I had a bunch of bones inside me (baby) that I’d have to push out!
Around midnight on September 11th, I vocalized that I was done with labor. I’d had enough, it was becoming too intense. I was shaky and queasy. I vomited, probably helping my body push that last bit of cervix out of the way. Right after that, I knew I was fully dilated and ready to push my baby out. My contractions slowed down and I could actually come out of “labor land”. However, I just didn’t have the urge to push. I gave a few sad attempts of a push in hopes my body would kick in and the expulsion contractions would start, but they didn’t. My water hadn’t broken at this point yet either and I figured that was the reason I wasn’t ready to push yet, so I reached inside myself to try to break the bag, but the film was too tight and I couldn’t. My “thinking” mind kicked in and I started to worry. My mind was running all over the place, and I ignored what my body was telling me, which was just to rest. Adam tried finding baby’s heartbeat a few times but he couldn’t and I was getting frustrated with him, the pain, and myself! I took the stethoscope and soon found the heartbeat. It was a little on the fast side, so I wanted to get her out soon. Finally, after an hour and a half of craziness, I decided I was done. I wasn’t going to try anymore. This baby wasn’t coming out. I sat down and rested. Then pop! My water broke! My poor body just wanted to rest after three days of labor! After it broke, I was ready to really push. I got into a squat on the floor and soon my body just took over. I screamed and groaned and cursed. Audrey came into the room at that point and supported me as I pushed. It was hard work, but it felt so GOOD. Everything was happening so fast at that point. As her head started to crown I could feel myself stretching to the max, I thought for sure I was tearing from front to back. I put my hand down to feel what was happening. Her head felt squishy and I thought it was her butt, but Adam confirmed it was her head. I asked him what color the baby was and he told me white. White means a dead baby! So I pushed with all my might to get her out. Out she gushed covered in blood and amniotic fluid right between my legs, all in one contraction. I sat back and scooped her up. She was definitely NOT white besides the vernix that covered her back. Her cord was still pulsing so I knew she was getting oxygen from me. I lifted her to my chest and heard some mucous in her throat so I turned her onto her belly with her head lower than the rest of her body and rubbed her back. She was breathing and pinking right up. I lifted her back to my chest and she let out a little cry then settled back down. Oh and YES she is a girl! I handed Caroline to Audrey as I checked out my blood loss and got a little more comfortable. The amount of “blood” was alarming until I realized that most of it was amniotic fluid since only a tiny bit came out when my water broke. I felt fine, not a tad bit tired or dizzy. Adam got the towels and blankets warm out of the dryer and wrapped her up and gave her back to me. After her cord was done pulsing and had turned white, we tied it with sterile gauze and cut it with sterilized scissors. Adam took her and I got onto the bed to push the placenta out. With my next contraction it came out, Audrey looked it over and it was whole. I took some shepherds purse tincture (which helps with bleeding) and I made sure my uterus was starting to harden and shrink. Audrey looked over my perineum and told me I tore. After that I made my way to the shower and rinsed off. Then I got a mirror and checked myself. I did tear, but it only looked to be on the surface more like a skid mark than an actual tear. I wasn’t worried about it.
After my shower Caroline and I got settled on the couch and she started nursing right away! I drank some orange juice and ate some chicken soup. I was in awe and amazement over what just happened, and the beautiful baby girl in my arms! I was the first one to touch her. She was never taken away from me and put on a table by herself. She never had a syringe shoved up her nose and in her mouth. She was never stabbed or poked with needles or had unnecessary goop put in her eyes. She was fresh out of the womb undisturbed. She never once cried from pain or anger. To this day, she is peaceful and sweet. She sleeps and eats wonderfully. She hardly cries.
While I was nursing, we called my mom, who was on the verge of tears with happiness, then we called Adam’s mom. Audrey took care of the clean up. Most of the “mess” was caught on chux pads and towels. The bed had plastic on it under the sheet. The floor did get messy in a few spots though, as well as the shower and tub. There was mostly just lots of laundry to do.
We didn’t actually look at the clock until we cut Caroline’s cord, but we determined she was born at 2:15am. While I was in the shower they weighed her at 7lbs 12 oz. After she nursed for the first time, we measured her at 20 inches.
Both her eyes were a little bloodshot from being pushed out so fast, but other than that she was perfect right from the start. When she was 3 days old I had a midwife come over and give her a proper check up. She was already up to 8lbs and healthy as could be. Five days after her birth a woman from the Dept. of Health stopped by to do birth certificate paper work. We never once had to leave home :)
As for me, right after I gave birth I felt wonderful! I was a little sore “down there” but I had so much energy, I was so happy! I instantly fell in love with my daughter. The next day, my muscles were sore from the work of labor and my bottom was still a little sore. By the 3rd day I felt completely normal. My bottom was itchy because it was healing, but I was not sore at all. My nipples were sore from establishing breastfeeding, but that’s it. Oh, and I had the weird feeling of my organs shifting back into there proper place . I couldn’t believe how wonderful I felt, especially comparing it to Adam’s birth and recovery. It took me two months then to feel as great as I felt in two days this time. Comparing this fast recovery to my last, is enough reason in itself to have a natural delivery. The pain and discomfort of a 3 day labor is much better than the pain and discomfort of an 8 week healing time.
I get butterflies in my stomach when I think about what I accomplished. I’m so happy with the way every thing went. Even though I was in labor for 3 whole days, I don’t consider that labor was very painful and unbearable, only uncomfortable. I never felt exhausted. I’d go through all that again in a heart beat. I only wish I would have listened to my body and rested instead of worrying during that last 2 hours. It also would have been nice to have a Midwife there to reassure me that my body knew what it was doing, and also to take the stress off of Adam and Audrey. They were worried that I’d lost too much blood and were a little too “rush, rush” with everything. I felt fine, I knew I was fine, I knew Caroline was fine. I just wanted to take things slow.
This was the right way for ME to give birth this time. I’ll have a home birth again in a heart beat if I have a healthy pregnancy and my intuition doesn’t tell me differently. Hopefully by the time we have more babies, if we do, Maryland won’t be so hostile towards Midwives.